Parents, grandparents and children took it upon themselves to walk to school yesterday (Wednesday) morning - six days before the start of new term.
The group, all residents of Grangemouth’s old town, set off from Dalgrain Road at 8 a.m. and made their way to Beancross Primary School in Kenilworth Street almost two miles away.
The walk, part of the ‘No Safe Route’ campaign parents launched last month, was an attempt to highlight the dangerous route youngsters would have to traverse twice a day in order to get to school and back home again.
Under current Falkirk Council guidelines all children under the age of eight are entitled to free bus transport to and from school if they live a mile or more away from that school.
However, children over eight only get free transport if they live two miles or more from the school - Beancross falls just short of the qualifying distance for pupils living in Grangemouth’s old town.
Melanie Smith, one of the campaign organisers, said: “Some parents won’t be able to afford to pay to bus their children to school. They already put the bus on anyway - all we are asking for is free transport for all children in the old town.
“As we’ve seen today, walking just isn’t a safe option.”
Morag Whyte added: “We wanted to show the route wasn’t safe and just how long it would take children. We had some good weather today, but that won’t always be the case.
“The traffic also wasn’t as heavy today because it is still the school holidays - so crossing roads will become even more difficult when the new term starts.”
The Falkirk Herald joined the campaigners on their walk - which took almost a hour to complete - to see the dangers first hand. Here is a breakdown of yesterday’s journey:
8.05 a.m. Forth and Clyde Way - The group faces the first crossing and takes around four minutes to safely negotiate it.
8.15 a.m. Earlsgate Roundabout - The most dangerous crossing takes the group almost 10 full minutes to safely cross as many vehicles coming off the roundabout fail to use their indicators to signal their intention to travel up Earl’s Road. From the traffic island the group had to make their way across another road, with large lorries often blocking their view.
8.30 a.m. Earls Gate Park - Yet another crossing which had a few close calls as cars failed to signal if they were cutting off or going straight over the mini roundabout. The group then had to walk along a very narrow pavement, leaving them quite close to traffic, on Beancross Road.
8.45 a.m. Newlands Road - The group finally arrive at the first, and only, traffic light crossing on their route.
8.55 a.m. Beancross Primary - After almost an hour the group arrives at their destination and younger members admit to being really tired after their journey.
One parent said: “That’s adding two hours to the child’s school day - by the time they get to school they are tired and not at their best when it comes to taking in what is being taught.”
The campaigners are going to hand a 160 signature petition demanding free bus travel for all old town schoolchildren to Falkirk Council’s education services.
Responding to parents’ concerns, the council stated it would take another look at the route later this month to see if anything had changed since the last independent assessment deemed the route safe two years ago.